While I know there are many other destination race distances, I myself have only ever traveled for 26.2. So if you are a runner who loves the marathon, you may enjoy this series this year.
While I go for the race itself, when I pick a marathon the race is only about 75% of what I look for when I travel to run: I want a race that is known to be great, nicely organized, great volunteers. If I am coming to run 26.2 I want a race that makes me feel the marathon is their most important distance, even if they have other distances. (Though I am sure every distance wants to feel that feeling.)
I look for other things as well: Great location, a place I will want to stay a few days and explore. Races near National Parks or State Parks. America is a beautiful place, if I am going to travel to a marathon I want to see some of the most beautiful places in the country.
This week, I am going to introduce you to my favorite marathon. The St. George Marathon, this fall marathon has a special place in my heart. I used to live in St. George, and it happened to be my first marathon. But those aren't the only reasons I am recommending, here are a few others:
* The scenery is stunning. Beautiful red rock desert landscape. It's absolutely gorgeous, you'll be out on the course getting the chance to watch the sun begin to light up the landscape around you. Canyon's, Cliffs, you even get to run up and around a volcano.
* It's a fast course, yes there are hills but you descend over 2,600 feet. Almost everyone I have talked to, including myself have received their fastest times, PR or Boston Qualified on this course. It's listed in Runners World in the top 20 fastest marathons.
* It's focus is entirely on the marathon. You have no other distances to compete for road space with, all the focus and energy put into it goes toward making it great for each marathon runner.
* They do have a 2 mile walk/run that is the last couple miles of the marathon course. Mainly this is for the marathon runners family, or community who want to experience what it feels to cross that beautiful finish line. Gives those coming to watch you something to do, besides sleep in and go out to breakfast while they wait for you.
* Runners World has named it in the top 4 as a race to build a vacation around. They've also named it in the top 10 most scenic marathons in America.
* Talking about stuff to do, you are a short distance away from Zion National Park (above) which is one of the most stunning national parks in the country. Your also in the race running past the beautiful Snow Canyon State park. Your in beautiful red rock Canyon Country, you can't go wrong where you decide to go explore after or before the race. Take your hiking shoes, mountain bike spend a week if you can. I guarantee there is so much to do and see in the area, you won't get bored.
* It's big, but not too big. Only 7,800 runners are allowed (it's a lottery each year). The volunteers are amazing, they give you the small town hospitality at each and every water stop. The military also comes out with their water trucks giving you that spritz you may need to get through on the years the October race is still getting warmer temps.
* It's a point to point course. You are go by bus to the start, so you don't ever have to run past the same part twice. You won't even need your headphones to keep your attention. The scenery is so amazing, you'll be focused more on that anyway.
* Of all the marathons I have ever run, it's the best organized race, with some of the best volunteers. The community here loves to come out and support the runners and they pull out all the stops. You'll feel their enthusiasm and joy of being able to serve you while you run the race.
Have you run the St. George Marathon before?
Or is this one on your list to travel to someday?